Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Opinion Pieces by Khadija Ismayilova and Intigam Aliyev on Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan

4 April 2016

Intigam Aliyev, the recently released human rights lawyer, and an investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova who remains imprisoned wrote opinions on political prisoners in Azerbaijan for POLITICO and the Washington Post respectively.

Mr Aliyev emphasized a need for meaningful democratic changes in Azerbaijan: “As long as there is no separation of power or political pluralism; as long as the media are not free, the elections not fair, and the courts not independent; as long as there is no freedom for civil society activities, the regime will continue to imprison those who dare to voice dissenting opinions or engage in independent activities”

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Whereas Ms Ismayilova expressed her disquiet about obstacles to freedom of Azerbaijani activists: “I am happy — very happy — that some political prisoners have been released. But their fights, and mine, are not over. I am not a toy to be exchanged for diplomatic gain by Baku or Washington so that officials can continue to pretend that it is business as usual. We are hostages of the regime, whether we are inside or outside of prison. Freedom is my universal and constitutional right, and Aliyev failed to protect it as the head of state. I am not going to ask to be pardoned for a crime I never committed. I am free even now, in jail, and my freedom is not for sale.”

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